Nov 07 AT 3:26 PM Dima Aryeh 28 Comments

Experimental ART system in KitKat shows big speed gains, aims to replace Dalvik


At Android’s core is the Dalvik runtime environment. Google has done a great job optimizing it to run really well on modern hardware, but sometimes there is only so much you can do with an old system. The time comes when you have to throw out the old and replace it with new, even if it won’t be compatible with everything before it.

It looks like Dalvik’s time is running out in the Android world, as Google is already experimenting with a system that has proven to be faster. The new system is called ART, and it’s actually included in KitKat in an experimental form. Instead of being interpreted by Just-In-Time compiler at every start, ART will force apps to be fully compiled and run natively. According to tests, apps could start up to twice as fast. That kind of speed simply from optimizing the runtime engine is invaluable. The tradeoff is that apps will be bigger and take a bit longer to install.

We can’t wait to see what can be done with ART, and when it becomes truly usable for the consumer, what it will do to the app market. Will all apps have to be redone for the new system? Will Google come up with a clever porting system? We’ll see, but those speed increases sound awfully nice to us. What do you think of ART? Will the speed increases be worth uprooting the Play Store, or should Google just keep polishing the old system? Leave a comment!

Via: Engadget

Source: Android Police

Dima Aryeh is a Russian obsessed with all things car and tech. His time is split between gaming and fixing his racecar. He also does photography in his spare time.

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  • Austin Tompkins

    Running ART right now, seems ok on my Nexus 5, definitely a speed boost, but when trying to switch to ART on a custom AOSP rom on my 2012 Nexus 7 all Gapps crash and burn. Excited to see Android optimized and pushed further with such tweaks!

    • Fulaman

      Where is the option to run ART? Is it in development tools?

      • fattire

        It’s in the developer tools, and requires a reboot… I’m trying on my 2012 CM 11 nexus build now, but yeah “Optimizing Apps” takes a while :)

      • da9el

        i couldn’d find the option to run ART. it’s not there where it is on the nexus 4.

    • Mick Collingwood

      I’ve been experimenting with this on an unofficial build on a Galaxy Nexus. I encountered the same problems with gapps until someone suggested trying an odexed version of gapps. This rectified most problems although certain apps like whatsapp didn’t handle it well.

    • leavemealone

      try odexed pa gapps. should be working with art

    • chandu

      Yup…yu need odexd gapps for that to run perfectly in ART…search in XDA for odxed gapps..

    • wim

      I have Google KitKat 4.4.2 for HTC m7 and installed optimisedalvik from XDA and it’s faster then ART

  • Chris Shores

    So they made Kitkat so it an run on lower end hardware but if ART is implemented more storage will be needed?

    • Jason Foss

      (1) Storage is cheap.
      (2) It’s a moderate amount of additional storage. You’re talking about making the smallest portion of a program (the code, not the resources… IE, images) 5% larger. On the order of kilobytes for 99% of programs.

    • ari-free

      Another reason for SD! Sorry Nexus.

      • Mick Collingwood

        If you read the post above you we’re talking about an extra few Mb’s for all the apps you have installed.

      • DragonPhyre

        1. Moving your apps to SD makes them slower. The point of ART is to make things faster, not slower.

        2. The overall size increase for the app is something like 5-10% of the origonal size of the app, so if your app is 5mb (5096kb) then it would be 5.6mb (5632kb) so I truly do not see this being an issue for all but the most low end of phones.

        3. If you are using all of your google services (photos, drive, gmail, etc) then basically nothing should be stored on your phone other than apps anyway… Pictures and videos (the biggest things on my phone) go out to G+ now… so basically nothing is used on my phone.

        I’m not saying you are entirely wrong with not having an SD option, but I don’t think it is as big of an issue as you perceive it to be.

    • John Patrick

      It will probably be no larger a bump in storage than the change to 720p and 1080p screens caused due to increased graphics sizes.

      Agree with Jason – storage is relatively cheap. Besides, I don’t know about you, but I have a few marginal apps that I keep for some reason but don’t use much that can go if storage does become an issue. I’ll bet most users do as well.

  • Jess Blanchard

    Dalvik, EXTERMINATE.

    • Austin Tompkins

  • Dan Jones

    Sounds cooler, but there will be another trade-off. Upgrading will take a lot longer. Remember that “Optimizing apps” portion of the upgrade process and how long that already takes? If it does a full compile of every app at every major upgrade (and I’m pretty sure it will), that will be a slow upgrade process.

    • James

      I have 198 apps installed. I just turned on ART and it had to upgrade once it restated. It did take longer then usual. But it didn’t seem to long to wait. I’m happy with it so far.

    • Daniel Brotherston

      Trading time on the upgrade phase for faster apps every other time is absolutely worth it.

    • Mick Collingwood

      Standard user might get 2-3 upgrades over the life of their phone if they’re lucky. A lot of phones never get upgraded.

      Even double the time during upgrading versus consistent faster start up times for apps you might use multiple times per week or even per day is well worth the trade off.

      Running an special build and initial optimising of 80 apps took about ten minutes.

  • renyo

    Out with the old… In with the new!

    • donger


      • wim

        I have Google KitKat 4.4.2 for HTC m7 and installed optimisedalvik from XDA and it’s faster then ART

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  • John Patrick

    Google Play services will likely incorporate new features to identify Dalvik vs. ART devices and proceed accordingly during installs. There’s a lot of devices running 4.x that wont see KitKat that will continue to see usage… if Gingerbread is any indicator. Google isn’t about to cut off that revenue stream, so Google Play will shrug off this change.

    Hopefully the Dalvik vs. ART won’t be too burdensome on the developers. And yeah, it will probably make APKs bigger since there will probably be two code payloads in each to to contain install code for the Dalvik or ART install routine.

    • John Patrick

      Ah, the uglier side of capitalism ….

  • Nigel

    Just upgraded to KitKat on Nexus4 and tried the ART option. After a long wait for apps optimization – the phone became ridiculously slow and unresponsive. Touch especially nosedived!
    Am on Stock ROM with no 3rd party launchers

  • nitin

    The big diffrence is battery life….its really worthy improved…. I would like to stay with ART…Bcoz in nexus 5 battery issue was so irritated for me.